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Recreational Sailing: Which Kind Is Right for You?

The popularity of sailing is such that it is not hard to find sailing schools in most parts of the country. And even for residents of landlocked states, companies like NauticEd offer online sailing courses that allow new sailors to get all their book work done prior to attending on-the-water training.

There are lots of ways to enjoy recreational sailing without having to go so far as to be a competitive sailor or a professional who makes his/her living on the water. Indeed, there is a lot to love about sailing just from the standpoint of learning how it all works. Sailors can even work their way up through the various sailing ranks to become a skipper or captain.

If you have been thinking about learning how to sail, what are your goals? Do you simply want to be able to enjoy time on your boat just off shore? Do you want to sail to a particular destination? In other words, which kind of sailing is right for you?

Dinghy Sailing

The most basic form of sailing is known as dinghy sailing. Dinghies are small boats normally used as utilitarian vessels attached to larger watercraft. However, first-time sailors that have no hands-on experience typically learn to sail in a dinghy. You could actually stop there if you wanted. You do not have to move on to larger vessels just because they are available.

Dinghy sailing is intended for people who want to enjoy calm waters not too far offshore. It is for people who love the experience of sailing without wanting to invest the time or effort in larger vessels. It is also for people who like the idea of sailing but are terrified of being miles offshore.

Solo Sailing

Solo sailing is the practice of taking a vessel offshore alone. Because you are sailing alone, your vessel has to be small enough to manage by yourself. So while it may be larger than the sailing dinghy, it’s still small enough that you do not need a crew to help you. This kind of sailing is ideal for people who want the thrill of being offshore but still want to sail alone.


Despite its name, cruising is actually a form of sailing. It is a kind of sailing that involves a lot more than just going a mile or so offshore. People into cruising have larger vessels that typically offer all the comforts of home. As you have probably guessed by now, cruising involves being out at sea for extended periods of time.

Let’s say you pulled anchor at Martha’s Vineyard with the intention of sailing down to Key West. Though you may stop at various ports along the way, your overall trip is planned to cover several weeks at least. You will be cruising. Most nights you will be anchored just off shore or tied up in a harbor and sleeping below deck.


Although professional racing certainly is a legitimate sport, there are amateur racers too. Racing is fast becoming one of the more popular forms of recreational sailing. New sailors are taking their sailing courses in order to join a crew looking for an extra hand or two. Time spent in the classroom and in on-the-water training are well worth it when the adrenaline of the race kicks in.

Recreational sailing has a lot more to offer than described in this article. Needless to say that anyone who wants to learn how to sail can do so. Thanks to online sailing courses and on-the-water training, even the least experienced can learn how to sail safely.


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